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Join Us, But Not for the Reason You Think

2014 RPLA Winners Celebrated at Banquet
2014 RPLA Winners Celebrated at Banquet

Well well well. I happened upon an article by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Writers’ Institute about writers’ conferences.

The topic was why authors should attend.

Why indeed?

Laurie Scheer, director of the Institute, offered seven reasons, all aligning with what FWA unearths in our yearly post-conference surveys. One reason in particular caught my eye. And it’s not what you’d expect.

But first, the conference. Our conference. The 14th Annual Florida Writers Conference. And let’s focus on the Banquet for the Royal Palm Literary Awards Competition, our celebration of writing and writers.

RPLA is the FWA-sponsored writing competition that judges adult entries in 30 genre-categories and youth entries in 15 categories, with published and unpublished works considered separately. It’s the contest that confers the life-changing awards for Published Book of the Year, Unpublished Book of the Year, and the Dahris Clair Memorial Award for screenplays.

This year, we had 98 finalists from 5 states: Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, and Michigan. If you missed it, here’s the list.

Which brings us back to the UW-Madison surprising finding. Over the years you’ve heard FWA urge you to come to the conference to “find your agent, meet your publisher,” but the value of attending a conference or Banquet goes further. As Scheer says, “For that isolated writer, attending a writing conference can rock their world in ways they could only imagine … When entering the conference, a writer’s spirits can soar as overheard conversations hum with phrases such as ‘first draft,’ ‘character development’ and ‘pitch session,’” leaving the attendee to conclude, “Maybe getting published is possible.”

It’s true! Hobnobbing with other writing souls ignites the muse. Cheering our colleagues feeds the soul. Your soul, whether you’re an RPLA finalist or not.

The Awards Banquet will be at the Hilton Orlando/Altamonte Springs October 17, 2015. It is part of the annual conference and included in the registration fee. We hope you’ll attend the entire spectacular 4-day event, but if you can’t, there’s also a Saturday-only conference-registration option. Or you can register for the Banquet only. Our new digs at the Hilton offer nearly unlimited space, so bring family and friends. Details are on the conference page and sidebar links of the FWA website. Scroll down and click the orange button to register.

The RPLA youth winners will be announced during the lunchtime ceremony Saturday, October 17. Check the website for details.

So c’mon, “rock your soul”:

What: 14th Annual Florida Writers Conference
When: October 15-18, 2015
Where: Hilton Orlando/Altamonte Springs
Online registration

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Chris Coward is the chairperson for the 2017 Royal Palm Literary Awards competition, a member of the FWA Board of Directors, past FWA president, and co-leader for FWA’s Oxford Writers critique group. She has ghostwritten for presidential appointees and CEOs, headed corporate marketing departments, edited national magazines, and taught college English. She has an MA in English (concentration in professional writing and editing) from George Mason University and a BA in philosophy from the College of William and Mary. Stone Perfect, her debut novel about two nerds, a girl, and a sexy sociopath who square off in a perpendicular universe, is a 2012 first-place RPLA winner, science fiction.

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